Fierce competition for international places

2010-01-30 00:00

CHIEF executive of the SA Hockey Association Marissa Langeni told Weekend Witness that South Africa’s final placing at the Men’s Hockey World Cup from February 28 to March 13 in New Delhi was crucial to the national team’s chances of going to the Commonwealth Games, also in India’s capital, later this year.

“The SA Sports Congress and Olympic Committee have stipulated that our men’s team must be ranked in the top five of eligible Commonwealth Games countries if they are to be granted the green light for the four-yearly showpiece,” said Langeni.

The SA side are currently seventh behind Australia, England, New Zealand, Pakistan, Canada and India, and need a top performance in Delhi to convince Sascoc.

The SA women are already ranked fourth among CG countries and appear to be a safe bet to win Sascoc’s favour.

SA’s performance at the Women’s World Cup in Argentina in seven months’ time probably comes too late to influence Sascoc’s decision as the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, take place from October 3 to 14.

Meanwhile, Saha president Dave Carr, whom Sascoc have appointed the country’s chef de mission for the first-ever Youth Olympic Games, expects fierce competition among four South African sports codes for a place in the games.

Carr, who will be the de facto general manager of South Africa’s entire group of athletes at the Singapore venue from August 14 to 26, said only one team sport from each country would be allowed to compete.

Sascoc ranks the four SA sports codes that have a chance of qualifying for Singapore in the following pecking order: soccer, hockey, handball and then volleyball — and this is how it works.

The sports code’s boys’ and girls’ teams must first win their respective Africa Qualifier tournaments. If, for example, both the national boys’ soccer and hockey teams win their continental qualifiers, football (top of Sascoc’s ranking system) will go and hockey stays behind. And if our soccer girls don’t win Africa but the hockey girls do, then the SA U17 boys’ soccer team will be accompanied to Singapore by the female hockey squad.

The boys’ and girls’ respective Africa Qualifier hockey tournaments play out in East London from February 21 to 28.

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